CitySkin Day 2

My mind map of the route we will take the CitySkin on…

My mind map of the route we will take the CitySkin on…

OK Day 2 has been a LOT of research & a lot of play. Wooohooo. We are trying to create a project which helps us all see our environments differently. Something which looks at the beauty of our interconnectedness with the world around us. We want to encourage a state of FULL BODY LISTENING in the wearers and then we will translate this experience to the audience in the eventual exhibitions.

As it’s been a day of research I’ve gone pretty intensely INSIDE of this concept. And that has left my brain thinking about how…

The city shapes & affects us

We breathe it in

It is inside of us

We are inside of it

In terms of research… it’s been epic and fueled by the amazing information that the World Health Organisation has (seriously check it out … links below)

Air pollution levels remain dangerously high in many parts of the world. New data from WHO shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.

WHO estimates that around 7 million people die every year from exposure to polluted air.

Ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.

How / why are countries missing from the index?

How / why are countries missing from the index?



There are many different types of air pollutants from a wide range of sources. The pollutants of greatest importance to health are the gases and particles that have been found to contribute to cardiovascular and respiratory disease. These pollutants are often lumped together under the term smog.

The AQHI is designed as a guide to the relative risk presented by common air pollutants which are known to harm human health.

Ground-level Ozone (O3)

Is formed by photo-chemical reactions in the atmosphere. It can be a major component of smog during the summer, especially during hot sunny weather, but is generally low in the wintertime. Ozone can be transported long distances within a polluted air mass and can be responsible for large regional air pollution episodes.

Effect on body
Ozone can irritate the respiratory system causing coughing, throat irritation, and/ or an uncomfortable sensation in the chest.

Ozone can reduce lung function and make it more difficult to breathe deeply and vigorously. Breathing may become more rapid and shallow than normal. This may limit a persons ability to engage in activities.

Ozone can aggravate asthma. When ozone levels are high, more people with asthma have attacks that require a doctors attention or use of medication. One reason this happens is that ozone makes people more sensitive to allergens such as pets, pollen, and dust mites, which are common triggers of asthma attacks.

Ozone can increase susceptibility to respiratory infections

Ozone can inflame and damage the lining of the lungs. Within a few days, the damaged cells are shed and replaced – much like the skin peels after a sun-burn. Studies suggest that if this type of inflammation happens repeatedly over a long time (months, years, a lifetime), lung tissue may become permanently scarred, resulting in permanent loss of lung function and a lower quality of life.

Particulate Matter

Particulate Matter is a mixture of tiny airborne particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs. These particles can either be emitted directly by vehicles, industrial facilities or natural sources like forest fires, or formed indirectly as a result of chemical reactions among other pollutants. Particulate matter can reflect both local air pollution sources or widespread air pollution episodes.

Those less than 10 micrometers in diameter are so small that they can get into the lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. Ten micrometers is smaller than the width of a single human hair.

Effect on body

Fine particles
Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter are called ‘fine’ particles. These particles are so small t hey can be detected only with an electron microscope. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning and some industrial processes

Course dust particles
Particles between 2.5 – 10 micrometers in diameter are referred to as “coarse”. Sources of coarse particles include crushing or grinding operations, and dust stirred up by vehicles traveling on roads.

Can cause chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue. Particle pollution has also been associated with cardiac arrhythmias and heart attacks.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2),

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), is released by motor vehicle emissions and power plants that rely on fossil fuels. It contributes to the formation of the other two pollutants. Nitrogen dioxide is often elevated in the vicinity of high traffic roadways and other local sources. All three can have serious, combined effects on human health—from illness to hospitalization to premature death—even as a result of short-term exposure. Significantly, all of these pollutants appear to threaten human health, even at low levels of exposure, especially among those with pre-existing health problems. In the development of the Air Quality Health Index, a formula that combined these three pollutants were found to be the best indicator of the health risk of the combined impact of the mix of pollutants in the air.

Nitrogen dioxide, however, is a concern because it plays a significant role in the formation of ozone, particle pollution, haze, and acid rain.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. It forms when the carbon in fuels does not completely burn. Vehicle exhaust contributes roughly 60% of all carbon monoxide emissions in Canada and up to 95% percent in cities.  Other sources include fuel combustion in industrial processes and natural sources such as wildfires.

CO levels are typically highest during cold weather, because cold temperatures make combustion less complete and cause inversions that trap pollutants close to the ground.

Effect on body

CO enters the bloodstream through the lungs and binds to hemoglobin, the substance in blood that carries the oxygen to cells. It actually reduces the amount of oxygen reaching  the body’s organs and tissues.

People with cardiovascular disease – angina are most at risk if they exposed while exercising.

People with marginal or compromised cardiovascular and respiratory systems (heart failure, anemia, lung disease) may be at greater risk from CO pollution.

Exposure to CO pollution for healthy individuals can affect mental alertness and vision.

Sulfur Dioxide

Colorless reactive gas which is produced when sulfur-containing fuels such as coal and oil are burned. Major sources include power plants and industrial boilers. Generally, the highest levels of sulfur dioxide are near large industrial complexes.

Effect on body
SO2 is an irritant gas that is removed by the nasal passages. Moderate activity levels that trigger mouth breathing, such as a brisk walk, are needed for SO2 to cause health effects.

One main effect, even with brief exposure, is a narrowing of the airways (called bronchoconstriction). This may cause wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Symptoms increase as SO2 levels and or breathing rates increase. When exposure to SO2 ceases lung function typically returns to normal within an hour.

Wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.


Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.

Effect on body

Lead in the body is distributed to brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood.

Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing fetus.

There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe. Lead exposure is preventable.

Inhalation of lead particles generated by burning materials containing lead, for example, during smelting, recycling, stripping leaded paint, and using leaded gasoline or leaded aviation fuel; and

Ingestion of lead-contaminated dust, water (from leaded pipes), and food (from lead-glazed or lead-soldered containers).

Once lead enters the body, it is distributed to organs such as the brain, kidneys, liver and bones. The body stores lead in the teeth and bones where it accumulates over time. Lead stored in bone may be remobilized into the blood during pregnancy, thus exposing the fetus. Undernourished children are more susceptible to lead because their bodies absorb more lead if other nutrients, such as calcium or iron, are lacking. Children at highest risk are the very young (including the developing fetus) and the impoverished.


Effect on body

Human exposure to benzene has been associated with a range of acute and long-term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer and aplastic anaemia. Exposure can occur occupationally and domestically as a result of the ubiquitous use of benzene-containing petroleum products, including motor fuels and solvents. Active and passive exposure to tobacco smoke is also a significant source of exposure. Benzene is highly volatile, and exposure occurs mostly through inhalation. Public health actions are needed to reduce the exposure of both workers and the general population to benzene.

Benzene has been detected at high levels in indoor air. Although some of this exposure might be from building materials (paints, adhesives, etc.), most is from cigarette smoke in both homes and public spaces.

Levels of benzene are higher in homes with attached garages than in those with detached garages. Levels are increased in homes close to petrol filling stations. Benzene may be released to indoor air from unflued oil heating and from the use of benzene-containing consumer products in residences. People spending more time indoors, such as children, are likely to have higher exposure to benzene.


Air pollution exacerbates health conditions in people who already suffer from chronic conditions such as heart and lung disease, or makes those who are vulnerable to its effects—such as children and the elderly—more susceptible to illness.

Air pollution may also contribute to the development of new cases of heart and lung disease The World Health Organization recently estimated that 800,000 deaths per year worldwide (1.4% of all deaths) could be attributed to urban outdoor air pollution.

In Canada, scientific evidence based on data from eight Canadian cities shows that 5,900 deaths can be linked to air pollution every year. Research also shows that poor air quality sends thousands more Canadians to hospital each year.


My final thoughts go out to everyone in California close to the wildfires.

Burnt-out vehicles are seen on the side of the road in Paradise, California  Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images  PHOTO CREDIT:

Burnt-out vehicles are seen on the side of the road in Paradise, California

Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images